JAY — The School Committee voted Thursday to increase the per diem rate for high school Principal Gilbert Eaton by $45 a day to bring it to $365.

The overall amount for the 200 work days in the agreement is $73,000, Superintendent Robert Wall said. Eaton does not accept health or other benefits from the school system.

The School Committee voted in June to re-appoint Eaton of Livermore Falls, a retired principal and superintendent, to serve as interim high school principal for 2010-11.

The per diem rate was initially offered at $320 a day for an overall total of $67,200 for 210 days. But Eaton didn’t accept it.

New School Committee member Mike Schaedler said from what he has seen of Eaton, he is worth the money. However, Schaedler said he doesn’t think they should be setting a precedent of increasing wages after the budget is set, and following the news of a possible reduction in state education subsidy this fall.

There previously were two administrators at the high school and now there is one principal, board Chairwoman Mary Redmond-Luce said.

When a former principal quit right before school began last August, Eaton was hired in the interim.

He didn’t realize at the time how much of his day would be spent on discipline, Redmond-Luce said.

Eaton spends long hours at the school and works into the night, she said.

He told Redmond-Luce that he works just as hard as the other principals in the school system and deserves to get a fair pay, she said.

Other high school principals in the area are making more money, she said.

“I’m just very much in favor of it, he works just as hard” as the other principals, she said.

Jay Education Association President Lynn Ouellette asked where the money would come from since the budget was set, and given the possibility of a state curtailment that could be a factor in personnel hours.

A budget is an estimate, Wall said, and he will be looking for offsets. Some accounts you spend all of the money, and others you don’t spend it all, Wall said.

There are a number of things they are working on, he said, and he knows of some areas where money will be saved and could cover the increase, he said.

The vote to raise the per diem rate was unanimous.

Wall informed the board earlier in the meeting that the state has announced a curtailment of $100 million collectively in all state departments in October.

“The Baldacci administration has begun the process to curtail spending starting in October and the severity of the cuts will depend on whether Congress acts to increase Medicaid funding and if state revenues continue to come in over budget,” according to a Maine School Management Association bulletin.

“Maine Finance Commissioner Ryan Low told the Appropriations Committee Tuesday that all departments are being asked to submit plans to meet a $100 million target, the amount the state budget would be short if the federal government does not extend an increase in federal Medicaid matching funds for six months starting in October,” it states.

The state supplemental budget passed earlier this year factored in that money as revenue because at the time it looked like a sure thing, it states.

Congress will be back in session on July 15 and will take up the issue then.

School officials are already looking at ways to reduce the budget if the curtailment comes to pass, he said.

“What’s clear is we’re going to seek to honor what the intent was by taxpayers,” Wall said, when they voted to add about $60,000 back into the $9 million school budget to keep education technician’s hours as is, he said.

“If there is a curtailment, this may be one area we may have to look at,” Wall said.

Redmond-Luce estimated the worst case scenario would be a loss of $100,000 in state aid to Jay.

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